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Interview with Mr Duff, Head of Enterprise

The Marketing team interviewed Mr Duff, Head of Enterprise, to help Year 11s consider the difference between the four subjects available in the Enterprise Department at A level and to explain the national success experienced recently by A level Economics.

​​​​​​​Q- What 4 subjects do you offer at A level?
A level Business, A level Economics, Level 3 Applied Business and Level 3 Finance

Q – Can pupils choose more than one of your subjects for A level?
In short, no. We brought this in as a department rule four years ago following advice from ‘UCAS’ and ‘Which University’. Tertiary institutions, as well as employers, don’t respect the overlap between Business and Economics for example, and therefore if you emerge with two A grades from these subjects they would question if you are a two A grade candidate or only benefited from the overlap! Universities and employers want more balanced people, not pupils who have studied 4 Business related subjects!! Therefore the only combination we allow is Applied and Finance which are different enough to warrant their combination.

Q – What is the difference between ‘A-level’ and ‘Level 3’ qualifications?
Nothing! ‘Level 3’ qualifications are A level equivalent and worth exactly the same in UCAS points. So if you attain an A grade in A level Business it is worth exactly the same as an A grade in A level Finance – the important thing is that they are all assessed very differently, therefore, we want pupils to choose the subject that suits them the best as learners.

Q – So what is the difference between them?
A level Business is your traditional A level – three papers at the end of two years covering approximately 80 topics and is essay based. This subject covers all the theoretical elements of setting up and operating a business, as well as looking at Globalisation and the global nature of Business.

A level Economics is the same – three papers at the end of the two-year course covering approximately 90 topics and is also essay based (though with a lot of Mathematical calculations and graphical interpretations involved). This subject looks at Microeconomics (the relationship between customers and businesses) and Macroeconomics (the relationship between government and businesses).

Level 3 Applied Business is 1/3 exam based and 2/3 coursework based, with a module completed every term throughout the 2-year course (6 terms and therefore 6 modules). It can, therefore, be quite intense and demands pupils who are capable of independent study skills. This subject would award pupils who are interested in Business investigations and who can maximise coursework marks.

Level 3 Finance is examination based and a very modern qualification based on ‘financial capability’. There are 4 units and each unit’s assessment consists of 2 parts – a multiple choice examination (an e-test where results are given on the day!) and an essay based case study examination involving extended writing. Like Applied Business, it can be quite intense with examinations to sit every January and May. However the modular fashion means that once Unit 1 is completed and the examinations sat, you move onto Unit 2 and so forth.

This subject would suit pupils who are interested in the world of Finance, so a key interest in the subject area is vital.

Q – How did you feel after seeing this summer’s Economics results?
This summer’s Economics results were superb – the best in the school and the best in the country! We attained 25% A*, 50% A and 25% B grades, with every pupil exceeding their target grade. Nationally, we were in the 100th percentile in regards to ‘value added’, which is teacher talk for how far pupils exceeded their computer-generated target grade! This means that we were top nationally in this regard. I couldn’t have been more proud of the pupils’ success!

Q – What was the secret to this success?
A lot of hard work and determination by all parties. I have been an examiner for Economics for the past 3 years now which helped to give pupils the inside story in regards to examination technique, but we did push the pupils hard and they jumped through the hoops we set them with the support of parents/guardians/boarding staff. So again – a lot of hard work and determination by all parties.

Q – What is the difference between A level Business and A level Economics?
I always use the same analogy – “Business pupils want to play the game, Economics pupils want to comprehend the rules of the game”. Put simply – A level Business is about how to set up, run and manage a Business considering all of the theory behind it. A level Economics considers how businesses and customers interact and what the government’s role is in managing the economy via economic policy. Therefore they are quite different subjects.

Q – Where should pupils go for more information?
The VLE! Links are available below:
Business =
Econ =
Applied =
Finance =